Paris, 16 January 2002
Early this morning, ESA's Director General held a press conference in Paris, where he recalled some of the highlights of 2001, and gave an overview of the main events to look forward to in the upcoming year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all I would like to thank you very much for having accepted our invitation to this traditional gathering at the beginning of the year. I wish to extend my personal best wishes to you, your families and your companies for the year that has just started. I hope it will bring you good health, and a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction.
Most of you are familiar with the life of our organisation and share with us through the year our successes and at times our worries. You help us deliver the right messages to decision makers and to explain what we do to the general public. I thank you for this very valuable work, and hope your interest and your support in space activities will continue in the year ahead.
Before going to questions and answers, I wish to recall some of the highlights of last year and go through the main events for 2002. I will also ask Mr Jan-Pol Poncelet, our relatively 'new' Director of Strategy and External Relations, to talk about our relations with the European Union and the new ties and synergies we are building up with that institution. Mr. Claudio Mastracci, Director of Applications, will help us answer the questions about Galileo that I am sure will come up.
Highlights of 2001
On 19 April, Europe sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station on an 11- day Space Shuttle mission: Umberto Guidoni from Italy.
In May, ESA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos) signed an agreement for more European astronauts to fly to the International Space Station on Russian Soyuz launchers in the period 2001 to 2006.
In October, ESA's French astronaut Claudie Haigneré became the first European woman to visit the International Space Station, having lifted off from Baikonur on board a Russian Soyuz vehicle for a ten-day mission.
On 12 July the Artemis telecommunication satellite was launched by an Ariane 5 from Kourou, but unfortunately it was left in a lower than planned orbit due to a malfunction in the upper stage of Ariane 5.
A recovery strategy to bring the satellite to the nominal geostationary position was immediately put in place. After several steps, the satellite was put in a parking orbit at 31 000 km, where it currently is. The satellite is working very well: all instruments and communication payload on board are fully functional. The most striking example came in November, when the Silex payload, allowing Artemis to communicate via laser with the French SPOT 4 satellite, was activated and gave beautiful images of the Canary Islands.
What else remains to be done? The ion-propulsion systems, which will take the satellite up to its final geostationary orbit at approximately 36 000 km, should be switched on towards the end of this month (target date: 24/25 January). New software to operate the propulsion system in a completely different way from the one for which it was designed has been developed, uploaded and tested. Artemis should reach its final position by the end of July.
In November (20 November) a test firing of an Ariane-5 solid rocket motor took place on the booster test stand at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou. The test qualified an 'increased-load' forward segment containing an extra 2.2t of solid propellant (10% of its mass). The new segment will raise launcher GTO lift-capability by about 200 kg.
But the main event in November was of course the ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial level held in Edinburgh.
There, ESA made significant progress on shaping a range of future-oriented programmes and, at the same time, signalled its strong commitment to closer cooperation with the European Union. I will highlight the programmatic content of this important exercise and I will ask Mr Poncelet to help me illustrate the political significance of the meeting.
In Edinburgh the ESA ministers adopted a Resolution stressing the importance of a balanced programme serving Europe’s citizens and agreed on Declarations making financial commitments for the development of programmes in all areas - space science, telecommunications, Earth observation, launchers, human space flight, etc. The total is an impressive 7.8 billion Euros over the next 4 to 5 years. Almost 20% of this money goes to programmes to be developed in cooperation with the European Union: Galileo and GMES.
Europe’s satellite navigation system Galileo is a major component of Europe’s transport policy and will offer a wide range of independent navigation services for commercial and private users and promises to generate new commercial services and revenues in areas such as road vehicle navigation and air traffic control. The ESA Ministers appreciate its importance and in Edinburgh fully subscribed ESA’s share for the development and validation phase of the programme (528 MEuro).
We now look forward and with confidence to the EU Transport Ministers’ approval of their contribution to Galileo at their March meeting.
Meanwhile 'the work must go on'. Europe needs anyhow to develop a number of key technologies such as, for instance, atomic clocks, signal generators capable of withstanding the harsh environment of space typical of the orbits where navigation satellites are placed (around 22 000 km). We cannot suspend the work being done in industry in these fields, since we would lose expertise and momentum. The current industrial effort for these technology development activities is of about 60 MEuro.
Further collaboration with the European Union will focus on the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme, which will address such issues as global change, natural and man-made hazards, environmental trends and monitoring of treaty commitments.
Soyuz in Kourou was not matter for decision in Edinburgh. However, on this particular topic, the Ministers gave me the mandate to finalise with all interested partners all the elements necessary to take a decision on opening the CSG to Soyuz . The ESA Council will have to decide on this by the middle of this year.
The strategy for independent and affordable access to space is based on the provision of competitive European launch systems. The Ministers stressed that to make that strategy work the right balance has to be struck between the respective roles, responsibilities and financial commitments of the public and private sectors.
Restructuring of the launcher sector in Europe is a key factor. The Ministers entrusted us with the task of meeting the following objectives:
- better assessment and control of government funded development costs,
- cost reductions in the development/production phase and increased transparency of industrial activities,
- close matching between the requirements defined by ESA on the basis of market assessments and the definition of new development activities submitted by industry,
- firmer European solidarity built on an equitable distribution of roles and benefits for member states and their respective industries.
This wide-ranging process of restructuring the European launcher sector has to be developed by both the public and the private sectors. The ministers invited industry to pursue its restructuring in parallel, as a contribution to the objectives fixed for ESA. Deadline: next Council meeting at Ministerial level foreseen for 2003 in Germany.
Concerning the ongoing discussions in the USA on the future configuration of the International Space Station (ISS), the European ministers sent a clear message to the ISS partners confirming that ESA will fulfil all of its obligations, and expects NASA to keep its international commitments.
The 1869 MEuro allocated to Space science for the period 2002-2006 represents only a modest 2.5% increase, so the Science Programme Director has initiated a process to examine how a balanced and sensibly scheduled plan can be tailored to the financial envelope approved. This exercise will last till June this year and will involve the European space science community at large and ESA’s Science Programme Committee.
In the meantime, four important missions are progressing towards launch this year and in 2003: Integral, Smart –1, Rosetta and Mars-Express. The Rosetta and Integral spacecraft are currently being tested at our Test Centre at ESA/ESTEC in Holland.
ESA and the European Union
We are building closer ties with the EU. Europe now needs to exploit the strategic potential of space systems more effectively to expand its scientific, economic, social and political objectives. The Ministers in Edinburgh renewed and enlarged our mandate to establish closer ties with the European Union.
The process of wedding the public policy objectives of the European Union and the capabilities of the European Space Agency started some years ago. ESA and the EU are now engaged in the development and implementation of a truly European space policy. The foundations of that policy were laid in November 2000, when the ESA and EU Councils endorsed a joint document on a European Strategy for Space.
Main events in 2002
End February Envisat launch - target launch date: night of 28 February to 1 March
April/May Roberto Vittori’s mission to ISS (tentative dates: April/ 5 May)
May French astronaut Philippe Perrin (CNES) to the ISS (2-13 May)
July First launch of ARIANE 5 ESC-A, performance GTO 9 t
August Launch of Meteosat MSG (Eumetsat)
October Launch of INTEGRAL from Baikonur (17 October)
November Frank de Winne (B) to ISS on Soyuz (4-14 November)
December Ariane 5 Vinci engine test firing
December Launch of SMART 1 on Ariane 5
Concerning the anomaly of flight Ariane 510 with Artemis on board, over 200 tests on the Aestus upper stage have been performed by Arianespace in close cooperation with industry and ESA on the two test benches in Germany. Used in conjunction with numerical models, these tests demonstrated the engine’s robustness under normal operating conditions and identified the most likely scenario that caused the anomaly on Flight 510 (presence of traces of water in the propellant lines most probably triggering the high-frequency instabilities at ignition).
The modifications introduced mainly involve a change in the ignition sequence and the implementation of more stringent acceptance testing (better control of internal humidity, etc.). The upper stage engine to be used for the flight of Envisat (Flight 511) was installed on the test stand on 9 January for a series of ten tests, which were successfully performed on 11 and 12 January. At the end of these checks, the Aestus engine for Ariane 511 will be decontaminated, purged and reassembled, then integrated on the Ariane 5 upper stage and shipped by plane to Kourou in early February.
We are fully satisfied with the results of the tests and we are confident that within a few weeks, with Arianespace we will once again be able to demonstrate that Ariane 5 is a very good launcher and that it has been a very good choice for Europe.
Thank you for your attention, and again, Happy New Year.